Bay young guns playing parts in semis charge

Otai makes changes for ‘quarterfinal’ clash

Otai makes changes for ‘quarterfinal’ clash

BRING IT ON: Poverty Bay midfield back Andrew Tauatevalu, main picture, and lock Leslie Hills, (below) will be key players when the Bay play Thames Valley in Te Aroha in the final game of the Heartland Championship, before the playoffs. Tauatevalu (20) in his first season at this level has scored 34 points in five appearances while Hills (21) has 11 points from his 15 games. Tauatevalu, a winger with an uncanny knack for scoring intercept tries,, will wear the No 13 jersey tomorrow.

Pictures by Paul Rickard
ON THE CHARGE: Leslie Hills

Poverty Bay are taking a knockout cup mentality into their final round-robin game in Heartland Championship rugby at Te Aroha tomorrow.

“Our manager, Steve Smith, came up with the idea, which I think is brilliant,” said LeaderBrand Poverty Bay coach Mana Otai, who has been forced to make changes from the starting line-up for the victory over King Country last week.

Fawn White replaces Willis Tamatea (injured) and Andrew Tauatevalu moves from the wing to centre, for Jess Fleming (work commitments) with Brody Lam taking Tauatevalu’s No.11 jersey.

“Before training this week, Steve told the boys to forget about it being the last game of the round robin,” Otai said. “He said, ‘This is a quarterfinal clash, before the semifinal.’ And that’s what we’re doing . . . approaching it from a quarterfinal angle.”

The Bay go into the game seeking a place in the Lochore Cup semifinals (teams placed fifth to eighth). They are ninth, three points behind Thames Valley and five behind seventh-placed West Coast. A bonus-point victory for the Bay would guarantee eighth place. If Wairarapa Bush denied West Coast any points, in Masterton, Otai’s men would climb to seventh.

“First priority for us is to beat Thames Valley — nothing else matters,” said Otai, who is backing his young guns. “Our senior players have been setting a good example and I’ve been particularly impressed with Willis, who is a big loss for this game. He’s a natural leader and, considering the injuries he had to overcome in recent seasons, has been a revelation.

“But as they say, one door closes and another opens. It’s a chance for Fawn (21), who is a very good young player, very physical and confrontational in a good way. He was unlucky to miss out earlier in the season when he picked up an injury.”

As for Tauatevalu taking over a key role in midfield, Otai had no reservations.

“Andrew is a big, strong lad who has played a lot of games for Gisborne Boys’ High School in the backline and attended Hurricanes u20 camp as a first five-eighth. Like all the young ones we have in the squad, he has matured and grown in confidence as the season progressed. Leslie Hills and Isaiah Leach (20, hooker) are the hidden workhorses in the team.”

However, for the Bay to win tomorrow they need their “senior pros” — Siosiua Moala (No.8), Everard Reid (lock), Mario Counsell (halfback), first-five Kelvin Smith and fullback Ethine Reeves — to step up.

Poverty Bay are taking a knockout cup mentality into their final round-robin game in Heartland Championship rugby at Te Aroha tomorrow.

“Our manager, Steve Smith, came up with the idea, which I think is brilliant,” said LeaderBrand Poverty Bay coach Mana Otai, who has been forced to make changes from the starting line-up for the victory over King Country last week.

Fawn White replaces Willis Tamatea (injured) and Andrew Tauatevalu moves from the wing to centre, for Jess Fleming (work commitments) with Brody Lam taking Tauatevalu’s No.11 jersey.

“Before training this week, Steve told the boys to forget about it being the last game of the round robin,” Otai said. “He said, ‘This is a quarterfinal clash, before the semifinal.’ And that’s what we’re doing . . . approaching it from a quarterfinal angle.”

The Bay go into the game seeking a place in the Lochore Cup semifinals (teams placed fifth to eighth). They are ninth, three points behind Thames Valley and five behind seventh-placed West Coast. A bonus-point victory for the Bay would guarantee eighth place. If Wairarapa Bush denied West Coast any points, in Masterton, Otai’s men would climb to seventh.

“First priority for us is to beat Thames Valley — nothing else matters,” said Otai, who is backing his young guns. “Our senior players have been setting a good example and I’ve been particularly impressed with Willis, who is a big loss for this game. He’s a natural leader and, considering the injuries he had to overcome in recent seasons, has been a revelation.

“But as they say, one door closes and another opens. It’s a chance for Fawn (21), who is a very good young player, very physical and confrontational in a good way. He was unlucky to miss out earlier in the season when he picked up an injury.”

As for Tauatevalu taking over a key role in midfield, Otai had no reservations.

“Andrew is a big, strong lad who has played a lot of games for Gisborne Boys’ High School in the backline and attended Hurricanes u20 camp as a first five-eighth. Like all the young ones we have in the squad, he has matured and grown in confidence as the season progressed. Leslie Hills and Isaiah Leach (20, hooker) are the hidden workhorses in the team.”

However, for the Bay to win tomorrow they need their “senior pros” — Siosiua Moala (No.8), Everard Reid (lock), Mario Counsell (halfback), first-five Kelvin Smith and fullback Ethine Reeves — to step up.

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